Dynamic Simulation of Crime Perpetration and Reporting to Examine Community Intervention Strategies

Michael A. Yonas, Jessica G. Burke, Shawn T. Brown, Jeffrey D. Borrebach, Richard Garland, Donald S. Burke, John J. Grefenstette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objective. To develop a conceptual computational agent-based model (ABM) to explore community-wide versus spatially focused crime reporting interventions to reduce community crime perpetrated by youth. Method. Agents within the model represent individual residents and interact on a two-dimensional grid representing an abstract nonempirically grounded community setting. Juvenile agents are assigned initial random probabilities of perpetrating a crime and adults are assigned random probabilities of witnessing and reporting crimes. The agents' behavioral probabilities modify depending on the individual's experience with criminal behavior and punishment, and exposure to community crime interventions. Cost-effectiveness analyses assessed the impact of activating different percentages of adults to increase reporting and reduce community crime activity. Community-wide interventions were compared with spatially focused interventions, in which activated adults were focused in areas of highest crime prevalence. Results. The ABM suggests that both community-wide and spatially focused interventions can be effective in reducing overall offenses, but their relative effectiveness may depend on the intensity and cost of the interventions. Although spatially focused intervention yielded localized reductions in crimes, such interventions were shown to move crime to nearby communities. Community-wide interventions can achieve larger reductions in overall community crime offenses than spatially focused interventions, as long as sufficient resources are available. Conclusion. The ABM demonstrates that community-wide and spatially focused crime strategies produce unique intervention dynamics influencing juvenile crime behaviors through the decisions and actions of community adults. It shows how such models might be used to investigate community-supported crime intervention programs by integrating community input and expertise and provides a simulated setting for assessing dimensions of cost comparison and intervention effect sustainability. ABM illustrates how intervention models might be used to investigate community-supported crime intervention programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87S-97S
JournalHealth Education and Behavior
Issue number1 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • agent-based modeling
  • community crime
  • community engagement
  • intervention evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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